How to Take an Affordable Beach Vacation

If you're a post-grad working in the corporate world, you know this feeling all too well. You sit very prim and proper in front of your desktop running reports and doing whatever bullshit entry-level tasks you need to complete on a daily basis. Your company owns you for 40 hours every week, give or take a few. But the weekend? It's yours.

“The weekend represents the 48 hours that you have to fuck up the life you have worked so hard for all week”

— Iliza Slesinger

Sure, you get 48 hours to yourself every single week. But lets take a look at the bigger picture here. Paid time off. It's hands-down the absolute best part of adulthood. I'll venture to say that you maybe get two weeks of PTO every year, three if you're lucky. Let's make the most of your time and money to ensure you have the vacation of a lifetime while also not going over-budget.

So when you only have two weeks instead of your college fall break, Christmas vacation, sprang break, and all of summer to fuck shit up, how do you fit in all the necessary douchebaggary? Also, how do you afford it? Vacations are muuuuch different now that you're footing the bill.

Make a list of things you want to do on vacay. Want to drink on the beach everyday? Cool. Absolutely need a cute insta with your new donut inflatable? Same. Insist on an all you-can-eat seafood buffet? Take me with you. All of these activities need to be planned for and in turn, budgeted for. It's totally fine if you want to spend a whole week on a jet ski, just make sure it fits in your budget. Don't worry, I'll help.

Surprise! I made a spreadsheet. I've broken down your vacation into categories. You may need more or less, depending on your situation. Want to know how to fuck shit up while also maintaining maximum financial responsibility? I thought so.

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1. Lodging

This will most likely be your biggest expense. You'll need to factor in safety, distance to the beach, and convenience. You have three options: Stay with a friend, AirBnb, or book a hotel.

Staying with a friend is obviously the most frugal option. Most people are happy to have visitors, but it never hurts to buy a dinner or a few drinks for your host. Yes, it is free for them as well but it's always aggravating to share your space with guests who aren't respectful or gracious.

AirBnb is personally my favorite option. Want to stay in a hippie bus in Charleston? Or maybe an affordable townhome in Fort Walton? Be sure to look at the map view so you can see how close you actually are to the beach. Also, read the house rules and fine print. Some listings have hefty cleaning fees upon checkout. Others have dogs on site. Message your host beforehand to see if the cleaning fees are negotiable and ask to see when the dog is available for beach Frisbee.

Hotels are normally more expensive but are directly on the beach, provide a free breakfast, and a nice lady brings you new towels each day. Sign up for all the loyalty programs you can for discounts and reward points. Call the front desk ahead of time to see which rooms are cheaper. You can still get the full effects of a beach vacation without a beach view from your window.

2. Gas

Be logical here. You don't need that much room for luggage; you'll be in swim suits all week anyway. You can survive 9 hours in a clown car if it means cutting your gas budget in half. I know the SUV with an extra row of seats may sound comfy for sleeping on the drive, but take a neck pillow and hope your backseat partner likes to cuddle.

Bonus Tip:

Offer to put all the gas on your credit card and have everyone pay you back at the end of the trip. You have a card with reward points, so you'll be getting FREE points.

3. Food

I consider this every time you go to a restaurant. I like to eat breakfast and lunch in and save my money for dinners out. You can use Yelp and Foursquare to research restaurants in the area depending on what you and the squad are hungry for. There's no point in driving aimlessly when you can Google the menu beforehand.

4. Groceries

Keep an eye out for a Publix or a Winn-Dixie. It's much more affordable to make your own turkey sandwich everyday rather than to venture to Subway or Jimmy Johns. Maybe splurge and get a bag of chips, your drunken self will thank you later. Please also pick up sunscreen while you're there. God knows that Florida sun will turn you into a lobster before you even have a chance to eat one.

5. Alcohol

Go to a liquor store instead of getting drinks out every day. $42 got me a fifth, a case of Yuengling, and a douchey plastic cup with built in koozie so I could drink on the beach.

Bonus Tip:

Most things are negotiable. That guy renting jet skis doesn't make anything if they just sit there. He would rather book it to you for a discount than not at all. Most rental stands will trade a review on their website or a picture of you having fun for a percentage off the total price.

Use your two weeks paid vacation to have the most fun possible, but don't blow your budget. Be frugal about your adventures and your wallet will thank you. Sun's out, guns out, and take a shot for me!